Hilliard Davidson High School softball coach Katie Speakman often uses social media to share inspirational messages to her players.
With her team preparing for the Division I district tournament, she used Twitter to push across her latest message.
"Do you choose to learn?" Speakman posted. "Life is about challenge; embrace it. Your response to adversity says a lot. Tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity."
The Wildcats have faced challenges and adversity this spring after returning just one starter from last season, when they finished 20-5, placed second in the OCC-Central Division and reached a district semifinal. Davidson was 4-15 overall and 2-6 in the OCC-Central before playing Marysville on May 1.
"Embrace the challenge. That's been our team mentality from the beginning of the season, that's what we talk about," Speakman said. "We have a lot of young kids and a lot of kids with very minimal varsity experience. Actually, (we have) only three that played on last year's team. When you have 14- and 15-year-olds playing up against 18-year-olds, we talk about embracing the challenge."
Seniors Makayla Cordle, Abby Sheets and Brooke Sommers are the only players with previous varsity experience. Sheets, a second baseman, was the only returning starter.
Speakman has witnessed improvement by her relatively inexperienced team. The Wildcats lost 7-6 to Dublin Coffman on April 27 after falling to the Shamrocks 12-5 on April 11.
Davidson defeated Westland 12-2 on April 30.
"There's a lot of improvement overall," Speakman said. "Fundamental things are getting better, so we just have to piece it all together. When they piece it all together and play defense and everybody executes what they're supposed to do, we compete."
In the second matchup, Davidson led Coffman 6-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning before the host Shamrocks scored three runs to pull out the win.
Cordle had two RBI, Sommers tied the game at 3 with an RBI double in the third inning and Davidson grabbed a 5-3 lead with two runs in the fifth. The Wildcats added a run in the seventh to take a 6-4 lead.
"We talk about 'embrace the challenge,'" Sommers said. "Don't give up no matter what. ... It's been tough, but throughout the season we've been getting a lot better. We have a lot better chemistry and we're getting to where we want to be."
Davidson had two defensive gems in the second matchup with Coffman, with catcher Abby Mullins throwing out the Shamrocks' Haley Newland attempting to steal second base and left fielder Alyssa Rivera racing back to make a catch to end a scoring threat by Coffman.
Rivera, a freshman, was promoted from junior varsity earlier this season.
"She was one of the j.v. outfielders that we saw a lot of promise in," Speakman said. "We had a couple of injuries, kids go down, and we really liked what we saw out of her, her defensive attitude. She's doing exactly what we ask and she's extremely coachable."
Kayla Michael and Lauren Runals have split time in the circle, with Michael turning in a complete-game effort in the second matchup with Coffman. Runals has missed time with a back injury, Speakman said.
"Kayla has jumped into her role and is doing what we ask of her," Speakman said. "They're both doing a nice job."
Davidson, which lost at Logan 8-6 and 8-7 on April 28, closed league play with a makeup game against Marysville on May 2.
Track teams excel in Wayne Invitational
The track and field teams turned in strong performances in the Huber Heights Wayne Invitational on April 26 and 27.
For the girls, the 4,000-meter distance medley relay of Sophie Lewis, Meghan Sculli, Kristina Hoefler and Lindsay Stull finished first (11 minutes, 55.51 seconds), and placing second were Lewis in the 1,600 (5:02.49) and the 800 relay of Klaire Kazmerzak, Sydney Ryan, Lydia Baumgartner and Kristina Hoefler (1:45.79).
Davidson scored 47 points to finish fourth of 45 teams, behind champion Gahanna (60.5).
Winning for the boys were the 4,000 distance medley relay of Conner Johanssen, Joshua Burton, Max LeClair and Andrew Tighe (10:21.69), the 3,200 relay of LeClair, Johanssen, Nick Sauvey and Tighe (8:00.1), LeClair in the 1,600 (4:21.75) and Tighe in the 3,200 (9:24.75).
Davidson finished fifth (42) of 43 teams, behind champion Wayne (75).
Winning streak ends for baseball team
After having its 11-game winning streak snapped with a 14-4, six-inning loss at Upper Arlington on April 27, the baseball team split a doubleheader at Logan on April 28, losing 9-5 and winning 7-4.
The Wildcats were 16-4 overall and 11-2 in the OCC-Central before playing Westland on May 1. Davidson defeated Central Crossing 4-1 on April 30.
Davidson concludes league play Friday, May 4, at Marysville. Entering the week, the Wildcats were first in the league, ahead of second-place Marysville (8-3).
Davidson defeated Marys-ville 12-4 on April 20 and 4-3 on April 26.
Boys volleyball team remains in title chase
The boys volleyball team was 10-7 overall and 7-2 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Pickerington North on May 1.
Entering the week, Davidson was second in the league behind Gahanna, which was 8-1 before playing UA on May 1.
The Wildcats visit Gahanna on Tuesday, May 8. They defeated the Lions 18-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-14, 15-10 on April 17.
Last season, Davidson won the OCC-Ohio title at 10-0.
Tennis team finishes .500 in league
The boys tennis team was 6-5 overall before playing Pickerington North on May 1 and finished 2-2 in the OCC-Central.
The Wildcats defeated Olentangy Liberty 3-2 on April 25 before losing to Dublin Scioto 3-2 on April 26.
Winning against the Patriots were Noah Elliott at first singles (7-5, 6-3), Ethan Clark at second singles (6-3, 3-6, 6-1) and Justin Wingenfield and Ryan Woodford at first doubles (7-5, 7-6), while winning against the Irish were Elliott at first singles (6-0, 6-1) and Wingenfield and Woodford at first doubles (6-3, 6-0).
Davidson, which defeated Gahanna 3-2 on April 30, concluded league play with a 5-0 win over Marysville on April 19.
"We are getting better each day and I really like this team's focus as we enter each match," coach Steve De Dent said. "Some of our players are close to putting some really good matches together."
Below are the coming schedules for the Davidson baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis and boys volleyball teams:
*May 4 -- At Marysville. The Wildcats beat the Monarchs 12-4 on April 20 and 4-3 on April 26.
May 5 -- At St. Charles
May 9 -- Home vs. 17th-seeded Dublin Jerome or 28th-seeded Groveport in second round of Division I district tournament. The Wildcats are seeded fourth.
May 4 -- Home vs. Bradley
May 8 -- At Thomas Worthington
May 3 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
May 7 -- At Bellbrook
May 3 -- Watterson at Ridgeview Middle School
May 4 -- At Westerville South
May 7 -- At 25th-seeded Scioto in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays at 19th-seeded Westerville Central in second round May 9. The Wildcats are seeded 36th.
May 7 -- At New Albany
*May 3 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington. The Wildcats beat the Bears 11-25, 28-26, 25-20, 25-19 on April 12.
*May 8 -- At Gahanna. The Wildcats beat the Lions 18-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-14, 15-10 on April 17.